Effects of Gentrifying a Nation: The Lost Voices of Brazil

The other day I logged onto Facebook to find a particularly interesting notification from a friend I met abroad. My friend from abroad was from Brazilian, and my notification was regarding the World Cup 2014.

ImageAs I read over the “share” or “notification” or whatever you’d like to call it I actually did take the message very seriously. It brought me back to something Rafael had said to us before when we were in Paris that I remember almost verbatim.

He, like most travelers, was critical of American travelers. He said, “Oh, you come to Carnival and say ‘Carnival is so fun,’ but you don’t realize what it [Rio] is really like.”

I, like most travelers, defended myself saying that I saw “City of God,” an amazing movie that chronicles the life of a young boy, Rocket, in the slums of Rio De Janiero. *Good life lesson- while it helps to watch films like this, it does not serve as adequate knowledge of life in a country.

Anyway, Rafael and other Brazilians that my friends and I met while in Paris taught us a lot about culture shock, cultural differences, how the rest of the world looks at us and how little we (Americans in general) understand about what’s going on internationally.

Brazil has a lot going on in the next three years with the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016. I’d be lying to say Brazil wasn’t on my bucket list as a country I have to visit in my life. It’s beautiful, unique and relatively affordable to travel through. But countries like this- with huge appeal and developing international tourism- are neglecting the needs of the domestic population.

Similarly, although not quite, East London flipped its population on their head when they constructed the 2012 Olympic Park. The park was constructed in a part of the city were homes and businesses were previously located, leaving people without homes.

So although the Olympic Village would serve the city as low-income housing after the games ended, “regenerating” the five boroughs of London, it would also displace people for years leading up to its construction.

Now that the park is constructed and completed it’s apparently done great things for East London. But how great is gentrification really?

Hat’s off to Brazil for their movement. Millions of protesters have joined rallies with a similar message to Turkey, Arab Spring and the worldwide “Occupy” movements. Politicians, media and the worldwide community should think a little more deeply about these protests.

Yes, they may turn violent- but why?

Who is at fault- if anyone in particular?

How are we defining “terrorists?”

Is it okay for millions to suffer while thousands prosper?

—is there a middle ground?

These questions are answerable, but they’re subjective so I’ll leave it at that. Next post I’ll be discussing Occupy and my experience meeting protesters in Philadelphia and London.

Keep an eye on Anonymous Brasil, very interesting things happening virally.